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Pharm Res. 1994 Apr;11(4):471-7.

The relationship between the glass transition temperature and the water content of amorphous pharmaceutical solids.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706.


The glass transition temperature of an amorphous pharmaceutical solid is a critical physical property which can dramatically influence its chemical stability, physical stability, and viscoelastic properties. Water frequently acts as a potent plasticizer for such materials, and since many amorphous solids spontaneously absorb water from their surroundings the relationship between the glass transition temperature and the water content of these materials is important. For a wide range of amorphous and partially amorphous pharmaceutical solids, it was found that there is a rapid initial reduction in the glass transition temperature from the dry state as water is absorbed, followed by a gradual leveling off of the response at higher water contents. This plasticization effect could generally be described using a simplified form of the Gordon-Taylor/Kelley-Bueche relationships derived from polymer free volume theory. Most of the systems considered showed a nearly ideal volume additivity and negligible tendency to interact. This is consistent with the hypothesis that such mixtures behave as concentrated polymer solutions and indicates that water acts as a plasticizer in a way similar to that of other small molecules and not through any specific or stoichiometric interaction process(es).

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